Gardeners and Foodies alike have plenty to smile about, as the 20th Annual International Flower and Garden Festival got underway recently. Last weekend, I had the opportunity to visit the Festival and take in all the sights, sounds, and yes, flavors of the 2013 event. There’s plenty to show you, so let’s get going!
Introducing Garden Marketplaces!
While there are always new and interesting things to anticipate every year at the Festival, 2013 is an even bigger deal. Epcot leadership wanted to do something big to mark the twentieth anniversary, and they decided that food was just the ticket!
This year, guests attending the festival will find twelve brand new Garden Marketplaces scattered throughout World Showcase. The stand alone kiosks, reminiscent of the structures rolled out every year for the International Food and Wine Festival, feature culinary creations and beverages that celebrate the bounty of land and garden. Chef Jens Dahlmann, executive chef for Epcot, said that the idea was long in coming, and was a natural progression of the farm to table movement that is so prevalent right now.
As an added bonus, guest can learn about the plants featured in the dishes and drinks. Special Festival Farms surround each of the Marketplaces, and feature gardens comprised of some of the ingredients that are used in the food and beverages. Be sure to check out fun displays of pineapple and coconut at Pineapple Promenade, blueberry plants at Fruits by the Glass — and even elderflower at Bauernmarkt in the Germany Pavilion.
What’s New and What’s Returning
One of the most highly anticipated attractions at this year’s Festival is The Land of Oz, in honor of the release of Disney’s Oz: The Great and Powerful. Encompassing gardens, a play area for children, an old-fashioned carnival midway, plus props, the area makes you feel as though you’ve wandered into Oz yourself! See the crashed balloon where the film’s lead character, Oscar, crashed, and view lovely glass poppies made by a glass artisan in Michigan. The Land of Oz is located as you approach World Showcase, just before you come to the Canada Pavilion.
Younger guests, auto enthusiasts, and fans of the Cars films will get a kick out of Radiator Springs, a walkthrough area which features several interactive displays, as well as creative gardening uses for car parts! Be sure to check out the topiaries of Lightning McQueen and Mater while you’re here as well. Find Radiator Springs in the area near Test Track that previously housed the Butterfly House
And speaking of it, Tinker Bell’s Butterfly House is back for another beautiful year! In addition to observing the lift cycle of butterflies, you’ll be able to take in a lush gardenscape meant just for these colorful creatures. Among the blooms, you’ll also have the chance to view some of your favorite characters from Disney’s Pixie Hollow. Find the Butterfly House adjacent to The Land of Oz this year.
Be sure to schedule in some time to take in the myriad of other gardens located throughout the park, like the For the Birds spot with lovely, bird friendly plantings and houses; the Backyard Play Garden with whimsical scenes and kid-friendly touches; and tons of special vendors, offering everything from plants and flags to all-natural bath and beauty products. And don’t forget to stop by Festival Center for a full schedule of seminars and presentations featuring HGTV personalities and other experts.
Into the Evening: Grooving with the Flower Power Concert Series
Continuing in 2013 is the popular Flower Power Concert Series! Beloved musical acts from the past light up the America Gardens Theatre. We were treated to a wonderful concert by Mickey Dolenz of the popular 1960s television series, The Monkees. Throughout the rest of the month, acts such as The Guess Who and Nelson will also be on hand to entertain festival goers.
But in addition to the Concerts, Epcot beckons you in 2013 to stay and play after dark. With newly-lit gardens and topiaries and an incredible array of delicious foods, the Flower and Garden Festival, long considered a daytime destination, is sure to gather a new following during mild spring Florida evenings.
Be sure to head to Epcot anytime before May 19 to experience all of the wonder and beauty of the International Flower and Garden Festival for yourself! We guarantee you’ll be happy that you did.